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Emmanuel Garcia and Jeanne Kracher talk with Tania Unzueta and Rey Wences about the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL). IYJL was founded in 2009 by a group of undocumented students fighting against the deportation of co-founder, Rigo Padilla. Believing in the legal system, Rigo attempted to fight his deportation through the courts, but soon was told that he had run out of legal options and he would be deported. IYJL organized a grassroots campaign that eventually won the support of five Congressmen, a Senator, the Chicago City Council, community organizations, and thousands of Chicagoans. Padilla’s deportation was deferred days before he was scheduled to travel back to Mexico. After the successful defense of Padilla, IYJL continued to call for passage of the DREAM Act with different actions, sit-ins, and hosting an annual “National Coming Out of the Shadows” day where undocumented youth from IYJL proclaimed to the public that they were “undocumented and unafraid.” IYJL took inspiration from the radical queer organizers that came before in forming their language, strategies, and tactics. IYJL evolved into Organized Communities Against Deportations and remains one of the strongest voices for immigrant rights in Chicago.

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